Pistachios

By Hayley Boriss, Agricultural Issues Center, University of California.

Updated July 2015 by Christina Romero, AgMRC, California Polytechnic University, Pomona.

Overview

Approximately 98 percent of U.S. pistachios are produced in California. Other states raising pistachios include Arizona, New Mexico, Texas and Utah. U.S. pistachio production in 2014 was 460 million pounds, up from 424 million pounds in 2013. (NASS 2014)

The average grower price for pistachios in 2014 was $2.59 per pound. As a result, 2014’s pistachio crop was valued at $1.6 billion. (NASS 2014)

Marketing

Most pistachios are sold as unshelled nuts. In 2014, 405 million pounds of unshelled pistachios were sold, while only 59 million pounds were sold shelled (NASS 2014).

The unshelled nuts are primarily sold for domestic consumption as a roasted and salted snack food. A smaller portion of nuts – often those that are not usable for non-manufactured snacks because they have not split or are badly stained –  are used as ingredients in candies, baked goods, ice cream, confectioneries and flavorings. They can also be added to dressings, casseroles and other dishes.

Nutritionally, they boast 12 grams of protein in a 2-ounce serving, which is more than a similar-size serving of cooked halibut; 6 grams of fiber, which is three times more than a similar-size serving of broccoli; and 570 milligrams of potassium, which is more than one large banana. (APGA)

Value-Added Opportunities

Value-added products pistachio paste and pistachio oil are expanding in the export and ethnic markets.

Package design is a needed component in the industry, because pistachios are sold in many different sizes – from snack packs to bulk – and different purposes.

Processing Facilities

Pistachios are mechanically shaken from the trees and are sent to processing mills to be hulled and dried.

There are 13 farms that process pistachios on site, according to the American Pistachio Growers Association. Because pistachios must be processed within 12 to 24 hours after harvesting, growers should have a processing facilities nearby.

Establishing processing facilities and or co-op processing facilities would be an added enterprise for the industry to efficiently handle projected future demand.

Exports/Imports

The United States is generally the second-leading producer and exporter of pistachios behind Iran, providing 24 percent of the world total.

As of June 2015, U.S. pistachio exports were 239 billion pounds, reflecting a steady increase from previous years.

The leading destination for pistachio exports was Hong Kong, followed by Belgium. A majority of shipments to Hong Kong are re-exported to China where consumers are increasingly looking for this product in baked and confectionary goods. China, Netherlands and Canada are also significant markets for U.S. pistachios.  (FAS)

Financial

Helpful enterprise budget for pistachios:

Sources

Administrative Committee for Pistachios.

American Pistachio Growers

California Pistachio Research Board

Fruit and Tree Nuts Outlook 2015, Economic Research Service (ERS), USDA.

Foreign Ag Service (FAS), USDA.

Noncitrus Fruits and Nuts, National Agricultural Statistical Service (NASS), USDA

Pistachio Nuts, Fruit and Tree Nuts Outlook, ERS, USDA, 2002.

Created December 2005 and updated August 2015.